Grammar Info

N1 Lesson 2: 11/17

にして ①

At, Over, In, Only (after, when, or because)


Number + Counter + にして
Noun + にして


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About にして①

When the case-marking particle に is combined with the て-form of する, it often carries the meaning of 'at (A)', 'over (A)', or 'only when (A)'. This nuance is used when (A) is something that is a fairly high level, or some point that would be considered a prime example for any given topic.
にして may appear following counters, or standard nouns.
  • 30(さい)にして(はじ)めて海外(かいがい)旅行(りょこう)()った。
    At the age of 30, I traveled abroad for the first time.
  • 回目(かいめ)にしてやっと資格(しかく)()ることができた。
    I was finally able to get my qualification only after my fifth try.
  • 犯人(はんにん)たちは(みち)()がって、一瞬(いっしゅん)にして暗闇(くらやみ)(なか)へと()えた。
    The perpetrators turned off the road and disappeared into the darkness in an instant.
While にして marks (A) as some particular exemplar, what follows may either be something that is or is not considered befitting of that example. In this way, (B) generally describes something that either does or does not fulfill the expectations of (A), and perhaps why.
It is common to see にして followed by grammar patterns such as ようやく 'finally', or (はじ)めて 'only when'. These function to emphasize にして even further as being a point from which something is achieved or attained.
  • 50(さい)にしてようやく、イタリアに()んでいる従兄弟(いとこ)(いえ)()くことができた。
    At age 50, I was finally able to visit my cousin who lives in Italy.
  • (はは)は60(さい)にして(はじ)めて、コンサートに()ったらしい。
    My mother went to a concert for the first time at the age of 60.
Fun Fact
Just like other structures that make use of the various conjugations of にする, にして indicates something that has been decided upon, or is being accepted as a fact from which a new condition will arise, or has arisen.



  • (いま)にして(おも)えばあの(ころ)5ドルでビットコインを()のは間違(まちが)った決定(けってい)だったかも。

    When I think about it now, selling bitcoin for 5 dollars at that time might have been a bad decision.

    今にして思えば is a common phrase and can be used in casual language.

    • 釈迦(しゃか)は29(さい)にして(はじ)めて宮殿(きゅうでん)()た。

      Buddha left the palace for the first time at the age of 29.

      Very often used with て初めて 'only after' or 'for the first time'.

      • (かれ)はバブルがはじけたことにより一夜(いちや)にして破産者(はさんしゃ)となった。

        Due to the bubble burst, he went bankrupt overnight.

        With AにしてB, the speaker often finds the timing of the events to be surprising or atypical, so it is often used with time-related expressions like 一瞬, 一夜, 1 泊, 一代, etc.

        • 小説(しょうせつ)(かた)():「ミステリアスなその見知(みし)らぬ(ひと)は、一瞬(いっしゅん)にして二人(ふたり)暗殺者(あんさつしゃ)同時(どうじ)(ころ)してしまった。」

          A novel, narrator: 'The mysterious stranger, in a moment, killed two assassins at once.'

          • ふうかはあきつき()夫妻(ふさい)結婚(けっこん)20(ねん)()にして(はじ)めて(さず)かった長女(ちょうじょ)だった。

            Fuuka was the first daughter that the Akitsuki couple was blessed with in the 20th year of their marriage.

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